Push Hands in Tai Chi

Push Hands in Tai Chi

What is Push Hands?

There are various methods and techniques of push hands.  The main purpose of push hands is as a sensitivity taiji drill whereby two people connect by ‘push’ and by ‘yield’, using their hands.  The exercise is aimed to be done in a harmonious way.

Benefits of Push Hands

Initially one does this drill for developing physical balance and strength. It also improves the subtler internal aspects of co-ordination, timing, sensitivity, reflexes, groundedness and leverage.

As you practice it more, you move onto the other benefits where the exercise leads to internal harmonious synchronization of the energies.  You also learn about the body’s natural instinct to utilize and direct force, and to rather develop the martial arts style of developing the body’s ability to yield to and redirect a force.

Learning about Self and Others

In our tai chi classes in Johannesburg, we practice the forms, and these types of exercises.  When we do a solo tai chi form, our attention is on ourselves physically and internally.  We gain understanding of our internal energy flows, and any tensions too.  We’re asked to confront our thoughts, emotions and any possible internal struggles.

However, when we do a partner exercise with others in the class, like push hands, we can explore our techniques which we learnt in the tai chi form, together with the application of these moves on or with our partners.

We now not only have to deal with our own internal states, but also with external forces and the energies of our partner.  This brings awareness to how we interact with others.  We learn to listen to our partner, focusing on their intention in the direction and strength that they are moving their hands.

Thus we can, in the safe environment of a controlled martial arts class exercise, learn about neutralising forces coming at us, and at the same time, gain a sense of our own power to generate and carry out an action towards another.

Chi & Li

Push hands is also a method of utilizing and strengthening our other senses. One worth mentioning is our sense of Chi.  This can be likened to our vital force, or life energy.  Thus by focusing on this inner strength’s development, on increasing our Chi, we become stronger from the inside out.

The aim is also to be learning to use chi (our inner strength) and not li (our physical strength).

Push hands helps us to develop finer distinctions in sensing our chi and focusing more on our internal strengths, rather than external strengths.



For more about Tai Chi and Martial Arts classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

What is Push Hands? There are various methods and techniques of push hands.  The main purpose of push hands is as a sensitivity taiji drill whereby two people connect by ‘push’ and by ‘yield’, using their hands.  The exercise is aimed to be done in a harmonious way. Benefits of Push Hands Initially one does …

Kung Fu Castrol Ad

Kung Fu Castrol Ad

Get to know your Sifu

Did you know that your Sifu, Leo Ming, started training in karate when he was a child?

And that since then he has focused his training and experience in Kobujutsu karate and tai chi, training under masters all over the world in places like in China, Athens, Boston, Toronto, Taiwan and Japan?

And did you know that he is known to make appearances in TV commercials once in a while?  Like this funny one, for Castrol Oil:

 

 

To get to know your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, contact him on 0833780468.

Get to know your Sifu Did you know that your Sifu, Leo Ming, started training in karate when he was a child? And that since then he has focused his training and experience in Kobujutsu karate and tai chi, training under masters all over the world in places like in China, Athens, Boston, Toronto, Taiwan and …

The Science behind why Martial Arts Meditation leads to Stress Free Living

The Science behind why Martial Arts Meditation leads to Stress Free Living

“In most if not all martial arts, there is some form of integrative meditation component that forms the building blocks of a balanced yet formidable martial artist… half the battle is won and lost in the mind,” says Nicholas Bruce in his in depth article in the Business Day, May 2018.

Standing meditation in Tai Chi

The article explains how martial arts like karate and tai chi can help us develop the ability to prevent ourselves going into the fight/flight response.  When we don’t have this ability, we can lose part of our logical thinking faculty and can make less healthy decisions, and we find it harder to manage our emotions.

One of the key ways that martial arts helps one to be stress free, is its meditation component.

We ask Sensei Leo Ming to give his input on this key element of martial arts training, and encourage you to learn more about the science and research into this aspect, in Bruce’s article.

 

Q: What is Beginners Mind and why is it important in martial arts training?

Leo:  Sho Shin…beginner mind… This is such an important concept in the martial arts. We always have the ego which gets in the way of the reason for doing our martial arts. We get side tracked, whether it be from something visual, something external that catches our eye, or from an internal thought. A simple example would be when we are trying too hard to impress others, or wanting to over achieve in class. Once this happens your ‘way’ (or dao) is lost. We need to always remember to keep our training pure and authentic.

There is a saying that in the beginners mind there are countless possibilities, but in the experts mind there is only one. Thus we get stuck because we think that something can only be done in a certain way, and that our way is the ‘correct’ way.

If we look at children, they are very spontaneous and have an open energy. It is free, uncluttered, and natural. They can absorb but they can also let go of. They cry with intensity, and then it’s all over. We want to train to attain our original mind, our spontaneous and empty mind – this is a good example of sho shin.

More often than not we bring our baggage wherever we go, in the dojo, onto the court, on the field, even into our homes.  This weight prevents us from flowing and feeling the moment.

Q: What are the benefits of this ‘beginners mind’ for life outside the dojo?

Leo: There are so many. A few benefits are:

  • learning confidence
  • learning about breath control – for anxiety and for focus
  • letting go of the ego – developing humility
  • growing your perseverance and overcoming obstacles,
  • and overcoming stress build up.

    Martial Arts meditation in Wudang Mountains, China

 

Q: What is meditation in Martial Arts?

Leo: It is essentially learning self introspection, being aware of self, being aware of breath, emptying the mind -having the beginner mind.

Q: What aspects of your teaching do you do to encourage this development?

Leo: Meditation is one of the teachings that I integrate into all my classes- to learn patience with the process. Mindfulness is learnt through meditation as well as through self perfection of techniques. One trains a single technique repetitively until it becomes part of you, or you become part of it, hundreds and thousands of times until you reach a state of ‘no-mind’  or mu-shin. Everything muscle and tendon is relaxed, flowing and natural, yet filled with chi. This is something which cannot be replicated through learning theory.  You need to experience it.

We welcome you to join us for a complimentary class, so you can experience a taste of Sho Shin, and the benefits of becoming a martial artist.

 

For more about Tai Chi and Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

“In most if not all martial arts, there is some form of integrative meditation component that forms the building blocks of a balanced yet formidable martial artist… half the battle is won and lost in the mind,” says Nicholas Bruce in his in depth article in the Business Day, May 2018. The article explains how …

How to prepare for Grading in Karate

How to prepare for Grading in Karate

Part of Karate is the process of grading.

What is Grading?

Gradings are a test of your skills and how they are integrated.  As you reach higher levels in your ability and understanding of martial arts, students must also be able to do more skillful and precise moves.

During black belt grades- the highest levels – students are tested physically and mentally, and then in their knowledge of theory as well.

Coloured Belts

Achievement of a grade is represented by a coloured belt.

“In the West, the emphasis is too one sided on belts. A belt holds one’s pants up. Yet it is also a visual illustration of the length of time a student has trained in Karate” explains Sensei Leo Ming.

“Usually there are what we call ‘kyu’ or rankings. There are about 8 to 10 kyus depending on the style, before one gets black belt.”

Essentially the first belt is white, representing purity and being a novice, as in ‘being empty’.  Then after passing through many other coloured belts, we reach the black belt.  Again, the black represents the ‘start of’ another phase, or the start of the journey.

Black belts are called ‘dan’ of which there are 10. There are also more specific names given at 5th dan, then again at 8th and again at 10th.

“When the black belt eventually fades back into white, one has gone full circle – back to novice” enlightens Sensei.

Preparation for Karate Grading

Preparation of gradings takes time and patience.   The time students spent committed to come to classes will show.

Their ability to overcome challenges from their previous grading, like if the student has improved on not only his/her strengths, but also weaknesses, is also looked at during a grading session.

Failure

Failure is difficult to deal with.   There can be so many areas that resulted in the ‘failure’, like nerves, physical technical errors, a poor mental attitude on the day, anxiety levels.

Even the fear of failure itself can cause the frozen rabbit syndrome – where a well-prepared student can just go blank and lose focus, displaying a poor level of skill.

If a student failed and didn’t get the next belt, it may cause that student to put more time and energy into their training, or it may cause them much inner disruption and mental and emotional issues for them.

“I think this is all part of the ‘belt’ and grading learning.  It’s what you do with the result.”  Leo encourages.  “But eventually the persistence pays off into a new level of confidence and further humility.”

Participate in Gradings

There are benefits to students to work towards their next grade, and want to progress through all the gradings.  Sensei Leo adds:

“I think the main aim is to set a goal for oneself to overcome. There are a few students who I’ve taught who don’t want to grade and just want to train for the sake of training.”

All approaches are welcome, and each student sets for themselves their goals to work towards.

We hope you will join us on your journey through the colours of the ‘kyu’, or rankings in Kobujutso Karate.

 

For more about Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Part of Karate is the process of grading. What is Grading? Gradings are a test of your skills and how they are integrated.  As you reach higher levels in your ability and understanding of martial arts, students must also be able to do more skillful and precise moves. During black belt grades- the highest levels …

Beijing

Beijing

On our field trip to China in April 2018, we spent some time exploring Beijing.

This is a bustling city, with its 30 million residents and many cars and scooters.  A prominent feature was the domino-like apartments that continue for miles across the city.


Another striking aspect was one of the forms of transport – there are bicycles which can be unlocked via an app from your cell phone.  You can then hop on the bike, cycle to your destination, and then park the bicycle on the sidewalk, leaving it there ready for the next traveller. It has a run-flat tyre too!

 

Palaces

Beijing is also known for their palaces.  A stroll around the Forbidden City within

Elderly man in the Forbidden City

Beijing allowed us to notice the people, and to admire the largest collection in the world of preserved ancient wooden structures.  Therefore, it’s a World Heritage Site.

It took 14 years to build, starting in 1406 and its 980 buildings cover 180 acres of land.  The Forbidden City was the home of the emperors, and for almost 500 years it also acted as the central place for ceremonies and politics of the Chinese Government

Summer Palace visitors

We also enjoyed an outing to the nearby Summer Palace, 15 km northwest of Beijing.  It is a World Heritage Site and is one of the best preserved regal gardens in the world.

In 1750 Emperor Qianglong build the Summer Palace, and today it holds over 3000 houses, covering an area of 70 000 square meters.   It has a landscape of hills and a man-made lake, with many beautiful walkways, bridges that arch, corridors innately decorated, and palaces and temples at many turns.

Practicing calligraphy at the Summer Palace

Tai Chi in Beijing

Beijing has a lot to offer, and like in most cities in China, taiji and qi gong are popular arts, together with badminton, playing music, singing, and various card and board games.  All of these are practiced and played by the locals in the parks of the cities.

A festive mood on the Summer Palace boat

 

 

> Missed any blogs about our China Trip?  Check the list here.

On our field trip to China in April 2018, we spent some time exploring Beijing. This is a bustling city, with its 30 million residents and many cars and scooters.  A prominent feature was the domino-like apartments that continue for miles across the city. Another striking aspect was one of the forms of transport – …

Leo’s Top Tips to keep Safe

Leo’s Top Tips to keep Safe

With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened.

These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like Johannesburg, where there is a high risk of being mugged, or car hi-jacked.

When in Car Parks

  • Place your valuables in your boot, out of sight.
  • Make sure your vehicle is locked once you’ve parked it. Double check that it is locked, as Car-jamming devices are a common means to gain entry into your car after you have left it.
  • Don’t be distracted by checking your phone, and rather be aware of your surroundings. Scan the area and notice if there are any loiterers around.
  • Park in an area which is not out of sight or tucked around the corner. However, also try not to park in between large cars where your car is hidden. Parking out of sight will make it easier for hijackers to accost you.
  • It is preferable to also park your car nose out, by reverse parking it into the parking spot.
  • When returning to your car, have your keys in hand, so that you don’t have to be looking for them when you get to your car.
  • Don’t dawdle to your car and once you are inside your car, don’t linger and delay leaving the car park.
  • If possible be with someone. If you are alone, your first defence is your awareness – especially of loiterers.
  • When possible, get the car guard to help you with loading your shopping packets into the car, while you keep scanning your surroundings.

When Driving to leave or enter home or work, at the gate on the street

  • Awareness is so important. Notice other cars in the street, people hanging around the gate or walking nearby, and look out for anything suspicious or unusual.
  • Be cautious in driveways – do not hang around waiting in the driveway or when entering apartment complexes. Boomed off areas can be used as a trap area for car hijacks.
  • Be extra vigilant in dimly lit areas or quiet side roads.
  • If anything seems out of place or suspicious, rather drive away and call for help before returning.

When Walking

  • Be aware of your surroundings. So don’t walk with your awareness in your phone checking social media.  Notice what is happening around you.
  • Walk in a busy area if possible.
  • And walk with others if possible.
  • If it is a casual walk, leave all your valuables at home. Carry your mace / whistle/ body alarm / weapon of choice.
  • Walk with a dog if possible.

When waiting at a Bus Stop or for an Uber Taxi

  • Yet again safety starts with awareness. Notice what is going on around you.
  • Know your bus stop or Uber pick up point and its surroundings.
  • Know the arrival times of your bus or taxi. Time your arrival to the bus stop or pick-up point to avoid waiting too long for the bus/taxi.
  • Avoid being on your phone texting while waiting for the bus. If you are checking your phone for your Uber details, be sure to keep aware too of your surroundings.
  • Be vigilant of loiterers.

How can learning Tai Chi and Karate help with developing a sense of Self-Defense?

Martial arts brings awareness to one’s behaviour.  It also develops an attitude  of alertness and awareness to ones surroundings.   Awareness is key to one’s own safety.

The next aspect is self-protection. Not only does martial arts teach us basic self defence movements, it also teaches us confidence in bodies and in ourselves. With this confidence we can have a different insight and awareness to the world around us, and a more assertive response which is needed to protect ourselves.

One also learns and understands the psyche of people and potential threats through training in martial arts.

All these give us a better insight of scenarios and hopefully our coping skills are heightened.

Be aware, and be safe!

 

For more about Self-Defence and Martial Arts classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened. These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like …

Terracotta Army

Terracotta Army

On our Tai Chi China Trip, we visited Xian, and we went to see the Terracotta Army.

These sculptures, made out of terracotta clay, are something that will stay with us for life.  It was special to have witnessed their creations, as the magnitude and detail of the warriors evoked a strong sense of culture, pride, awe and wonder.

There is also a sense of the long history linked to these sculptures, as they depict the armies of Quin Shi Huang, who was the first Emperor of China.

We stood fascinated with how the people lived at those times.  As well as how they as a nation came together to build what they believed would be an army ready to protect the Emperor from any ghost armies of his many victims – he was tyrant leader after all. It is said that these warriors would protect him into his after life.

Each warrior is unique with individualised features, and they are in many different positions, like standing, sitting, kneeling and some even crouching. We, however, did not get a photo of any in martial arts poses, but we did get one in a martial like pose, before raising his bow and arrow:

 

> Next blog coming soon: Beijing & the Summer Palace

On our Tai Chi China Trip, we visited Xian, and we went to see the Terracotta Army. These sculptures, made out of terracotta clay, are something that will stay with us for life.  It was special to have witnessed their creations, as the magnitude and detail of the warriors evoked a strong sense of culture, …

Tips for beginners learning Karate

Tips for beginners learning Karate

When we start to learn something new, especially in a class format like Karate Classes, it can feel daunting and our self-consciousness can get the better of us.

Sensei Leo Ming has some points to keep in mind, so that you can enjoy your classes, and get the most out of your karate learning journey.

Sensei Leo Ming suggests that you should do no preparation for your class, as a new student.

“I usually like to see the student in his/her natural form. In this way I can teach and ‘fill the empty cup’ ” he explains further.  “If the student has preconceived ideas, then I would generally need to teach them to empty those thoughts which may hamper their advancement.”

The thoughts could be from martial arts movies they have seen. Some ideas may also be totally unrealistic.  For example, a goal that they want to achieve and a specific time frame in which they want to achieve it.

So, Sensei Leo recommends that students of Karate rather bring an attitude of an open mind to class.

They should also not spend the class comparing themselves to others in the class.

“For motivation it may be good to want to achieve something, but students should always bear in mind their own capabilities while striving for a goal.”

Sensei Leo also suggests that no food should be eaten about an hour and a half before you train.  However, liquids to hydrate should be taken frequently, during and after class.

The Role of Sensei in Karate

Your Sensei is your karate teacher and guide. He or she should always set the tone and set the example of what needs to be done. As you progress there will always be times of physical and mental discomfort for you, the student.

“As the Sensei I may give you a hard time depending on your personality and how you generally cope with yourself and others. These are tests for the students to see what they are capable of and how they handle tasks and difficult situations,” says Sensei Leo.

“It may be partnering with another difficult student; it may be just simply coping with the amount of push ups or abdominal exercises in the class. It may even be in the form of constantly giving the student critical comments.”

In traditional times the Sensei could not be bothered with students just wanting to learn something quickly and then leaving. Sometime students just wanted to ‘steal’ techniques, or students were not sincere in their pursuit of mastering the art of karate. If the student was really sincere, he would stay on through all the hardships of the training and become a ‘worthy’ one.

Still today, there are Sifu’s and Sensei’s who are aware of this.  Thus, Masters will still have certain students who are close to them in the inner circle, and they would be taught in depth.  These are called the ‘closed door disciples’ or ‘inner disciples’, and then there are those that are the ‘open door disciples’, and then also the normal students in the classes.

Join a class with Sensei Leo Ming, and not only will you learn karate and improve your physical fitness, you will also experience the mental fitness and personal growth that the martial arts are known for.

For more about Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

When we start to learn something new, especially in a class format like Karate Classes, it can feel daunting and our self-consciousness can get the better of us. Sensei Leo Ming has some points to keep in mind, so that you can enjoy your classes, and get the most out of your karate learning journey. …

Shanghai

Shanghai

What stood out most for us on our stay in Shanghai, was the size of the city and amount of people who live there. Also striking is its modern buildings and sky scrapers, together with the authentic feel of the city.

We visited Zhujiajiao, also known as the Venice of Shanghai.

There is a beautifully manicured garden alongside, and one can see a lot of work has been put into the making of this space, in the style of a manor garden.

Tai chi is practiced in Shanghai in the many parks that are in and around the city. Where ever there is a space, it will be used. The locals get out into the park and have activities like taiji; badminton; qi gong; playing instruments; kicking the shuttlecock. This all contributes to a very vibey atmosphere.

> Next China Trip blog: Terracotta Army

What stood out most for us on our stay in Shanghai, was the size of the city and amount of people who live there. Also striking is its modern buildings and sky scrapers, together with the authentic feel of the city. We visited Zhujiajiao, also known as the Venice of Shanghai. There is a beautifully …

How to choose to train in Karate

How to choose to train in Karate

When considering taking up Karate as your hobby or sport, here are some points to consider Karate over other sports.

Self Improvement

While training the body, one learns about the Okinawan or Japanese culture; such as its history; its tradition of respect in the symbol of bowing, and the distinction in seated bows, standing bows and the reasons behind this.

One also learns about discipline by way of being on time, by way of dress code, and mind and body preparation.

There is etiquette involved in the process of learning, so it is not just how fast or strong one is, but how to reduce the ego and become a more refined person in life.

Sports in the modern day is about winning or losing; points or no points; highest; fastest; best. The values of traditional martial arts are about the inward qualities of winning over oneself, the ego. They are about striving for self improvement.

In the words of the late great Funakoshi:

“The ultimate aim of karate lies not in winning or losing, but in the perfection of character of its participants.”

Logistics and Lifestyle

Obviously one also needs to take into consideration the times and costs of classes.  Look for a dojo location that makes it easy to attend class, due to it being close to your home, work or school.  You also want class times that suit your other life activities and family obligations.  This way it will be easier to make your karate practice part of your lifestyle, and hence a more sustainable health choice.

Karate Teacher Influence

Even more important than the logistics of class, is the instructor’s methods and philosophy i.e. the actual teachings of your Sensei. The second point to consider when choosing your Karate teacher, is the reasons you want to train versus the reasons the instructor wants to teach his karate system.  Do they match or compliment each other?  Or will they lead you in opposite directions?  The difference can mean a far more enjoyable and rewarding experience for all.

Kobujutsu Karate

Karate is known to improve fitness and strength and sharpen self defense skills.

Some systems or styles of Karate have more emphasis on different criteria eg. sport karate vs traditional karate. There is no problem with just doing sport karate, as long as one realizes that it is but a small part of karate itself.

Karate is a paradox. When one learns a technique a thousand times over many years, it not only builds physical strength but also mental confidence not to have to get into an altercation.

Kobujutsu  = ko -traditional     bu- martial    jutsu- technique . The karate we teach is an art of traditional ways.

Choosing Kobujutsu is essentially choosing to experience personal growth while learning martial arts.

 

We look forward to welcoming you to class.

For more about Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

When considering taking up Karate as your hobby or sport, here are some points to consider Karate over other sports. Self Improvement While training the body, one learns about the Okinawan or Japanese culture; such as its history; its tradition of respect in the symbol of bowing, and the distinction in seated bows, standing bows …